On my drive home today, at least two (2) people in the U.S. will kill themselves before I make it home.
That’s about a 30 minute trip. One way. On a good day. With light traffic.
If that doesn’t phase you (statistics often don’t sink in with me either) then think about all the people you come into contact with during your day’s activities. Two can be a very significant number. That is a dad and a mom. A friend and a neighbor. The woman handing you coffee and the man behind you in line.
It is an unpleasant business to think about such things. Perhaps it is this unpleasantness keeping the general population from getting into the down and dirty of dealing with mental illness. Perhaps it is just too hard to understand. Perhaps people don’t have the tool sets to properly recognize and help. Perhaps something you can’t touch is just too hard for people to point to and say “we need to fix this”. Perhaps people are too busy and just don’t care. More than likely, it’s a little bit of all these things.
This post was obviously spurred on by recent events and even more so after seeing some stats at the end of an article. The bit of data that stuck out to me was how close the number of deaths were each year between breast cancer and suicide. Both have about the same death rates. About two people every half hour.
I know there are walks and other activities to raise funding to address mental illness but they just don’t seem as pervasive as those for breast cancer. Both kill a similar number of the population each year but how often do NFL teams adjust their uniforms to promote awareness for mental illness?
I get that boobs are easier to market to boobs like myself and trust me, I’m all for saving the women (and men) attached to the tatas. If nothing else though, I’d just like to see more mainstream media chip away at the stigma associated with mental illness.
Probably the easiest place to start for everyone is to just show compassion. Hold open the door, give a sincere “thank you” to the waitress, don’t lash out if someone is getting on your last nerve. Also, don’t be afraid to accept compassion. This is a hard one for men sometimes. If someone offers you help, take it with a gracious heart.
If all else fails, hug someone.